When it comes to finding the right insurance for our canine friends, we all simply want a policy that’s affordable yet comes through for you when you need it most. It can often feel like a bit of a minefield trying to work out whether you’re actually getting what you need from an insurer, but Petz is here to make things a little clearer. There always will be variables that affect the price and insurance cover like your dog’s age, breed, hereditary conditions, or existing problems, but there are still standard features that you should always look for to ensure you’re truly protected and getting what you’re paying for. In this article, we’ll break down the four different types of insurance policies that you can choose from as well as what to check for within that cover.
Do I need dog insurance?
Naturally, choosing to get dog insurance is entirely your choice, but in our opinion, it’s the smart idea. Sure, you can just use your savings for treatments, but veterinary care is incredibly expensive, and so is the medicine. A consultation alone can cost between £40-£60 with procedures like fixing a fractured bone can go up to £1600 and ongoing treatments like arthritis or lameness costing up to £3,760. So unless you do have large savings set aside, it is just good sense to get dog insurance. It may feel like a large amount to come out of your bank account every month, especially if your dog is very healthy and you’re not seeing the benefits, but having peace of mind that you can do the best for your pup if ever the time should come is priceless in our eyes.
As well as getting dog insurance, it’s also vital to shop around and put some thought into what it is your dog needs. It might be tempting to choose insurance based on low monthly prices or the insurer that has the biggest name, but you may not be getting the best option. We would always suggest looking at reviews on independent sites from customers first because while some brands may be big names, customers’ experiences are not always as good as the testimonies of customers with smaller insurers.
How to choose the right dog insurance?
Personal attributes of your dog will always affect the price, so it’s good to bear that in mind and to expect higher prices if your dog is older, a larger breed or has had any pre-existing conditions. When choosing insurance, you will be given the choice of four different types of policies and this consists of accident only, time-limited, maximum benefit or lifetime (comprehensive).
This insurance is an ideal option if you really don’t have any kind of a budget for dog insurance; it covers vet bills if your pup has been in some sort of accident, but it is worth noting that most dogs do develop some kind of condition over their lifetime and this won’t be covered. Your dog will be covered for sudden injuries up to the amount that you originally decided, so if, for example, they’re hit by a car, then this would be covered. You can usually get this for anywhere between £5-£10 a month.
Time-limited is where accidents are covered, and new conditions are covered for up to 12 months, but the conditions are no longer covered once that time period is up. This is the cheapest way to get accident cover and sickness cover for a lower price, but bear in mind, the price could shoot up after the 12 months because the illness that has occurred within that time will now be classed as a pre-existing illness even if it was covered the 12 months before.
There is also a policy called max-benefit, which is similar to time-limited in that you’re covered for accidents and illnesses, but rather than it being time-limited, it’s price limited. This means that you can insure a condition for years, but the payment will only last to the set price amount that you agreed on. So if the policy is up to £5,000, you can claim for years until you reach that price limit. This is a decent policy and will be sufficient for many dogs, but consider the fact that the seemingly large allowance you decide on is to be spread over years which may not be enough for a dog’s lifetime, especially if they need surgery because of ailments like poor hips or eyesight.
The lifetime covers accidents and sickness, with new conditions being taken care of every year as long as needed since it renews every year. If you have an amount of £3,000 a year, then you can spend that every year, and it will renew again the next year. This kind of flexibility will cost more monthly, but if you have a larger, older dog that’s also a breed susceptible to conditions like a Bulldog, German Shepherd, or even a Labrador that’s a pain for eating hard objects, then we recommend it.
Since illnesses like cancer and diabetes or dental and hip conditions are often the most common ailments of dogs, in our opinion, lifetime cover is the best option for your pet as it will take care of new and existing illnesses. Be sure to ask the provider if they cover these common illnesses and conditions before you commit.
How much is dog insurance?
Dog insurance will vary for everyone depending on your dog’s age, behaviour, breed, gender, conditions, and of course what’s including in the policy, but for a healthy dog that is young and isn’t susceptible to problems due to their breed, you’re looking at paying anywhere between £5 a month to £30 depending on the cover you take out (accident only to lifetime) and the amount of vet fees you choose (this can be anywhere between 2,000 and 10,000). There are also plenty of other varying factors that affect the amount you pay which we’ll move onto now.
Things To Look For On Your Policy
Whichever one you choose out of these four policies, it’s always a good idea to look at what’s actually included. Two policies/insurers may offer different things even if they’re part of the same type of cover, so we’ve written a list of things that you should double-check and think about before making a decision.
Pre-Existing Illness Cover
Many insurers do not cover pre-existing conditions, so it’s important to check that before going forward with a policy if your pet does have a condition. Petsure, Bought By Many and Vets MediCover do offer pre-existing, so it might be worth checking out the customer reviews.
Pay Out and Excess Fee
The average person claims £815 for their dog, but as we mentioned earlier, operations and ongoing treatment can go well into the thousands. We would recommend aiming for vet fees of £3,000 and upwards per condition with unlimited conditions. It’s good to check the excess fee as well because this can vary between £50 to £200.
Support and Stress-Free Claims
It’s no use having a good payout if the insurer is notorious for making claims handling difficult, so looking at the kind of customer support that an insurer offers is so important. Easy processes like a 24-hour claims service, a digital claim service or an advice line will make those situations more straightforward; some providers even let you track the claim process in real-time, which is impressive. It’s always a good idea to check customers’ experiences, for example, whether an insurer has rejected many claims or whether they make it difficult and confusing to claim. Getting a provider that will make it as easy as possible for you is a top priority.
Third-party insurance is really important and definitely something to include in your policy. This covers any damage your dog may cause to someone else’s property or to their dog. While you probably can’t imagine your dog ever doing that, it’s still good to have yourself protected from any kind of legal action being taken against you.
Death By Accident or Sickness
Never something that you want to think about, but some policies will cover the cost of euthanasia and cremation, which can be fairly expensive bills and not necessarily something you want to be thinking about in that circumstance. This is especially important to have as part of your insurance because it’s inevitable, and so it makes sense to ensure that the difficult time will be as manageable as possible.
Emergency Boarding Cover
This isn’t always something that policies offer, but it’s definitely worth considering. If you have an emergency, for example, you have to go straight to A&E and end up in hospital for a few days; this could save you a hefty dog boarding bill and ensure your dog is being taken care of. Of course, there’s always friends and family, but for whatever reason, they can’t take care of your dog, it’s good to have a boarding cover, and this cover doesn’t usually have a set amount of how many days you can use it for; it can come in a range of boarding, a dog sitter or a kennel depending on what you choose.
Cover for Accidents Abroad
Many people won’t ever take their pup abroad, so this probably doesn’t apply, but if you’re the type that likes to take your buddy on your adventures, then this is paramount.
Missing Pet Cover
We hope this never happens, but on the chance that it does happen, this will help cover all the expenses required in looking for your dog – this can include advertisements, searches, and resources needed to find your dog. It’s obviously not something we like to think about, and many of us will never have to, but there has been a staggering rise in dognapping and in order to be fully prepared, you may want to make sure that money won’t be a roadblock in finding your dog.
With some policies, you can also get perks and discounts, behavioural treatment, legal advice, bereavement counselling and a 24/7 video vet. These should be considered when choosing as well.
It’s always good to use comparison websites in order to get the best deal, but before you commit to a policy, check independent reviews from customers to see how the insurer is long-term. An insurer might promise a lot but actually can be a hassle when it comes to making a claim down the road. Look at reviews to see how they treat loyal customers; for example, do they regularly change the price of the policy? Do they have a history of being helpful and accessible, or do they make it difficult to make a claim?
And from the team here at Petz, good luck with the process of finding the right insurer! Check back with the Petz blog for more advice on dog ownership, including our article on which breeds are the most expensive to insure.